India on Friday joined the United States in voting against Iran in a resolution passed by United Nations atomic watchdog IAEA censuring the Islamic nation over its controversial nuclear programme and demanding that it stop uranium enrichment.
At a meeting of the 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Austrian capital Vienna, 25 countries voted in favour of the resolution spearheaded by the US.
Besides India, the resolution was endorsed by six world powers--the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany-- reflecting a rare measure of unity on Iran. It is the first time since February 2006 that the IAEA board has passed a resolution against that country. The resolution demanded that Iran immediately suspend construction of its newly-revealed uranium enrichment plant at Qom--a site kept secret until recently.
According to sources, India's decision to vote against Iran was taken at the highest level. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is in Port of Spain to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), consulted CongressPresident Sonia Gandhi, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the issue.
An inkling of India's position at the IAEA was given by Singh during his just concluded visit to the US where he made it clear that India does not support Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. It is for the third time in four years that India is voting against Iran at the IAEA.
The previous occasions when India voted against Iran were in September 2005 and February 2006 causing a minor political tornado in the country.
The Left parties, who had propped up the UPA regime, accused the government of a "sellout" to the US because the nuclear deal was being negotiated then. Three countries -- Venezuela, Malaysia and Cuba -- voted against the resolution while six countries -- Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey -- abstained. Azerbaijan was absent from the vote. The likely position that India would take today could be gauged by Singh's remarks in the US.
Addressing the Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), a leading US think-tank, in Washington on Monday, Singh said, "As far as Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions are concerned I have stated it unambiguously on several occasions that we don't support nuclear ambitions of Iran."
While as a signatory to NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) it has all the rights that flow from the NPT for the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, it has obligations that go with its membership, he said in reply to a question.
"There is no ambiguity in our position and we are quite clear in our thinking that Iran should not go in for nuclear weapon or all that is inconsistent with obligations as member of NPT," he said.
The prime minister had also made it clear that India would abide any sanctions imposed by the Security Council on Iran, but indicated that he favoured the path of engagement with Iran.
The resolution asked Tehran to reveal the purpose of the plant and the chronology of its construction and wanted it to "confirm ... that (it) has not taken a decision to construct, or authorise construction of, any other nuclear facility which has as yet not been declared to the agency."